Photo Credit: RICK KAUFFMAN — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP >> Walking into the Ridley High School cafeteria on Wednesday, Principal Dr. Ken Acker heard a familiar tune, one that he used to rouse his son out of bed on football Saturdays.
“I used to wake him up with the Temple fight song,” Acker said.
Acker himself was taken by surprise as Hooter the Owl, the Temple band and cheerleaders made a stirring entrance with a brass ensemble and vocal leader who gave tribute the prideful Owl in his first year as principal of Ridley High School.
“When I walked in and heard the band playing, I knew the music, I thought ‘Holy cow, what are they doing here?’” Acker said.
Singing along to the fight song — “Fight, fight, fight! for the Cherry and the White” — Acker, who graduated with the Class of 1989 in the College of Education, pumped his fist and encouraged his students to join and sing.
The pop-up pride events nominate Temple graduates and commemorates their efforts in maintaining a relationship with the university, and who additionally foster enthusiasm within prospective students.
“It’s a way in which we can celebrate all that’s happening at Temple and visit people where they are and bring the spirit to them,” said Brandon Lausch, the director of strategic marketing and communications at Temple.
Kevin Acker thought his father was a perfect candidate.
“I was going through Instagram and I came across a post where they surprised a guy at Comcast in the middle of a meeting, threw confetti all over him,” Kevin said. “I thought that was definitely something I needed to do for my dad.”
Even before Kevin, a junior at Temple University and a Ridley High School grad, had decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, his father was trying to instill the passion of his alma mater to the next generation.
“It all started when I was a kid and he’d wake me and my brother up before a football game singing ‘T for Temple U,’” Kevin said.
When the younger Acker finally chose Temple to pursue a major in biology — the first step in his goal of becoming a dentist — his father was thrilled.
“When he finally went and visited his sophomore year, he fell in love with it,” Acker said. “I said, ‘I knew you would, you’re a Temple guy.’”
But, Kevin wasn’t always so sure. He was wary of his father’s enthusiasm, and instead leaned toward the University of Pennsylvania — he wanted to attend an Ivy League school — but he said that Temple seemed like the right fit.
“I went to the tour and I knew it was where I wanted to be,” Kevin said.
Going through Instagram this year, Kevin came across a post where Temple alumnus, Nicolas Jimenez, FOX ’08, who thought he was attending a meeting in his office at the Comcast Center and was instead showered with confetti. The nomination process from those at Temple is a combined effort between the office of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Alumni Relations and the athletics department.
“Temple’s red hot, (we have) unprecedented momentum in a lot of areas of the university, our rankings have never been higher, our athletics teams are performing incredibly well, we have new facilities going up, our campus has never been more vibrant,” Lausch said. “This is a way in which, if you can’t get to campus, we want to bring the pride to you.”
To Dr. Acker, it was simply “incredible.”
“That was really cool,” he said, adding that bring his two institutions together, Temple and Ridley, as well as giving his son an opportunity to come back to his high school, was an incredibly prideful moment.
“I’ve always trumpeted Temple’s education, because I think it’s a fantastic school,” Acker said.
Beginning his college education as an athletic training major at Temple, in which he earned an internship with the Philadelphia Eagles, Acker eventually turned his focus to education.
Dr. Acker had been principal at Garnet Valley Middle School and an administrator at Interboro School District. He earned his undergraduate degree at Temple University, his master’s degree at Widener University and his doctorate at Wilmington University. However, with the bond he now shares with his son, they’ll both forever bleed cherry and white.
“There’s pride in your alma mater,” Acker said. “I was telling him all his life to go to Temple.”